Cannes 2011: ‘The Beaver’ director Jodie Foster: Our movie struck out in the U.S. because Americans don’t like dramedies


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‘The Beaver’ at least partly flopped in the U.S. because it starred Mel Gibson. But director Jodie Foster has a different explanation for the film’s tanking: American sensibilities.

‘It’s designed to do something different,’ Foster told reporters, referring to her film, at the Cannes Film Festival on Tuesday, pointing out that the movie is a high-concept comedy that also has many dramatic elements. ‘And very often Americans are not comfortable with [that].’ She went on to say that she feels American usually want films to fit in one box or another.


The movie, which stars Gibson as a depressed man who puts on a beaver puppet in the name of self-therapy, has failed to crack even $1 million in domestic box office since coming out in limited release on May 6.

Foster said she was hoping for a better response in Europe, where the film will open in many territories after playing the Cannes Film Festival Tuesday night. ‘I always assumed that because it has a European style it will be well-received in Europe,’ she said. (It’s also worth noting that the Gibson controversies, which involve his alleged rants at ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva and anti-Semitic comments to a police officer in 2006, have created less of a media stir on that continent than in North America.)

At Cannes, Gibson will turn out for the red carpet gala, Foster said. ‘He won’t talk, but he’ll be here,’ she said, marking one of the first large-scale public appearances since the Grigorieva scandal erupted last summer.

As she did in U.S. interviews, Foster continued to defend he choice of Gibson as the film’s star, despite his baggage and potential drag on the box office. ‘He handles the charm and the humor of the characters while still keeping his feet in drama,’ she said. ‘And the first order of business is to say who’s the right actor for the role. At this point I can’t think of anyone else but Mel.’

-- Steven Zeitchik